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Health workers vote for pay strike

Growing numbers of public sector employees are set to go on strike after more health workers voted in favour of industrial action in a row with the Government over pay.

Members of Unite backed action in a ballot and will join other NHS staff in a walkout on October 13.

Unison has already announced a four-hour stoppage on that day, followed by four days of other forms of industrial action. Unions are angry with the Government for rejecting a recommended 1% pay rise for NHS staff.

Council workers will strike on October 14 and civil servants a day later in separate disputes with the coalition.

Unite said its members will strike for four hours from 7am on October 13 while its members in England will work to rule between October 13 and November 9.

Its ambulance staff will also impose an overtime ban in their respective trusts between 13-19 October.

Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: "As David Cameron gathers for his party conference in Birmingham this weekend, he can contemplate the damage he and his party has wrought on the NHS in the last four years.

"One of his most destructive actions has been how he and his health secretary Jeremy Hunt have targeted NHS staff to bear the brunt of the austerity measures. Our members have seen their incomes fall by up to 15% in real terms since May 2010.

"Now our members have given a resounding rejection to Cameron and his government who vetoed the 1% pay rise, as recommended by the independent Pay Review Body (PRB). This meant that 600,000 NHS employees received no cost of living pay rise in April.

"The calibrated industrial action is designed to achieve three objectives: to get the 1% rise paid to all 1.3 million NHS staff; respect future PRB recommendations; and obtain the 'living wage' to the 40,000 NHS staff being currently paid below that level."

Unite said its members in England voted by 62% in favour of strike action and by 77% for other forms of industrial action.

In Northern Ireland, the members voted by 78% in favour of strike action and 91% for industrial action short of a strike.

Unite members in Northern Ireland will be striking between 11.00-15.00 on October 13.

There will also be a demonstration at Stormont on that day.

In Scotland, the devolved government has agreed to pay the 1% rise to all staff as recommended by the PRB and to implement the living wage by paying an extra £300 to low paid workers.

Unite accepted this and, therefore, did not ballot its members in Scotland.

Progress has also been made in talks with the Welsh government. Unite has 100,000 members in the health service.

Other health unions will be announcing the result of strike ballots over pay in the coming weeks, including the Royal College of Midwives.

The three days of strikes in October will be followed by other forms of industrial action, as well as a national demonstration on October 18 organised by the TUC, under the banner, Britain Needs A Pay Rise.

Several unions are now organising strikes against the Government's public sector policies on pay, jobs, and services.

Members of the construction union Ucatt working in the NHS have also voted in favour of both strike action and industrial action short of strike action.

Members voted by 77% in favour of strike action, while the mandate in favour of industrial action short of strike action was even stronger with 85% in favour.

Steve Murphy, general secretary of Ucatt, said: "This demonstrates that NHS members believe that enough is enough and they are prepared to take industrial action to secure the pay increase that they deserve."

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